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Sept. 4, 2008
Contact: Victor Bailey, Hall Center for the Humanities, (785) 864-7822.

Hall Center announces lineup for Difficult Dialogues series

LAWRENCE — The Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas has announced speakers for the Difficult Dialogues: Race, Education and American Politics series for fall 2008. The series, co-sponsored by the Commons at Spooner Hall, will include four events.

David Roediger, professor of history and African-American studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will present “Will Race Survive in the U.S.? The Possibilities and Impossibilities of the Obama Phenomenon” from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Commons. Respondents to Roediger’s talk will include Randal Jelks, associate professor of American studies; Shawn Alexander, assistant professor of African and African-American studies; and Maryemma Graham, professor of English. Roediger’s lecture, based on his forthcoming book, “How Race Survived United States History,” sets the historic presidential candidacy of Barack Obama within longer patterns of white supremacy in the U.S. past.

On Oct. 10, the Commons will host an noncompetitive debate between the KU debate team and the Texas Southern University debate team. Texas Southern is one of the nation’s largest historically black colleges, and its head debate coach, Thomas Freeman, held a debate camp for actors in the 2007 movie “The Great Debaters.” The topic will be “The Impact of Race on Education,” and the debate will take place from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the Commons.

On Oct. 22, Charles Johnson, the S. Wilson and Grace M. Pollock Professor for Excellence in English at the University of Washington in Seattle, will speak on “The Obsolescence of the Concept of Race.” Johnson is the author of four novels, including “Middle Passage,” which won the 1990 National Book Award. Johnson’s lecture will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Spencer Museum of Art auditorium.

And finally, marking the KU centennial of “Native Son” author Richard Wright, his eldest daughter Julia Wright will present “Uncle Tom’s Grandchildren: How My Father Taught Me About Race” at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Commons. Julia Wright is a journalist and human rights advocate.

All events are free and open to the public.

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